Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The End

Lately it seems like every year-end brings the closing of a chapter in my life. It's been a while since I started a new year with business as usual.

At the end of 2010 I got transferred from the nuclear plant that I worked at to the company's general office in the city. This marked the first time in 5 years that I wasn't able to have lunch with my mom because she worked at the same plant. It also marked the first time in 3 years that I wouldn't be working side by side with my sister. However, we all still worked for the same company so I could instant message them throughout the day to make the transition easier.

At the end of 2011 I faced an even bigger chapter end. I graduated with my degree in Finance. I no longer had to face 15-18 credit hours of school on top of my 40 hour work week. A week and a half later my husband and I sold our house in the suburbs and moved to the city, just two blocks from my office. I loved that house. But even with the sad goodbye to my house, I was glad to see 2011 end. It was quite possibly the hardest year of my life to date. On top of my new work assignment and school, my mom was re-diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. I spent a lot of that year working and studying in hospitals, sleeping in recliners, and eating terrible food. I also spent most of that year scared to death that I was going to lose my mom. Thankfully, that all came to an end with the year and she slowly started improving. The silver lining of 2011 was that my sister also got transferred so we were back to working side by side.

Now here we are. 2012 is coming to an end. With that I will be closing the biggest chapter of my life to date. My last day at my job of over 7 years is December 26. It's a bitter-sweet goodbye. I have wanted out of this job for quite some time, but saying goodbye is my least favorite thing on the planet. I won't really miss the job, but I will miss a few of the people. Mostly, I think I will miss sitting next to my sister; Being able to send her an IM about any fleeting thoughts I have, and grabbing lunch together when we're not too lazy to get out of our chairs. Because of the change in careers I will also be moving again, but it's not an ordinary move. I will be moving to a town two hours away (to live with roommates again!) and my husband will be staying here. So I have to move to a new town, and start a new job, and I have to do it all by myself.
This marks the first time I will have to be away from my husband for extended periods of time. Thinking about it for more than 30 seconds at a time is incredibly hard. This also marks the first time in my life that I will live more than 45 minutes away from my mom. I wont be able to stop by her house after work so she can iron something for me or drive her to Durham every other week for her doctor appointments. I thank God every day that she is in better health and I can leave knowing that she has many, many more years in this life.

So this is it. This is another ending to another chapter. I'm doing my best to get through all the endings without letting my emotions get the best of me. So far I'm winning, but I can feel them getting stronger with every passing day. Last week I only cried once, today I've already cried twice. 2013 is going to be a long year.

Monday, August 20, 2012

People Helping People

Name that title movie!

I’ve been feeling pretty philanthropic lately. I want to share some of the things that I have been involved in. Not because I want to toot my own horn or receive praise from anyone, but because I genuinely hope that hearing about my experiences will inspire you to participate in your community. If only one person is inspired then I didn’t waste my energy.

Let’s start with Doing My Part. DMP is a non-profit organization in Charlotte that raises money, $3 at a time, to give back to the community. (Please consider going to and signing up for a monthly $3 donation) Here’s how it works: DMP collects $3 donations until they get to $1500. Once the pot hits $1500, that money is donated to a project and the ticker immediately starts over to collect money for the next project. DMP is very new, as we just completed our first project on August 11. And let me tell you, it was an awesome project.

DMP teamed up with Samaritan’s Feet to give shoes, socks, and book bags with basic school supplies to homeless children in Charlotte. We went to the women and children’s homeless shelter where we washed their feet, gave them a brand new pair of shoes and socks, and then sent them on their way with some new school supplies. It was a really awesome experience.

The cool thing about DMP is that you are a member of one organization, but you get to be involved in all kinds of things around the community. They are involved in helping the homeless, veteran assistance, cancer fundraising/support, and so on. They put a lot of effort into surveying the community, vetting organizations, and making sure their time and money is going to the most urgent needs.

Every other Sunday DMP’s Street Team teams up with Serve Charlotte’s Homeless to comb the streets of Uptown for homeless people, handing out food and toiletries. I have only had the opportunity to participate in this once, but I can’t recommend it enough. It’s really an eye opening experience that can change your outlook if you let it. If you’re interested in being a member of the Doing My Part Street Team or just donating $3 a month to be one of our heroes, let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction! If they can get 10,000 heroes we can do one project a month. Imagine how many people we could help!

Something else I participated in recently was Habitat for Humanity. I know everyone is familiar with this one and it’s actually kind of challenging to volunteer for them without being part of an organization that makes a donation to the build. This is the second time I have had the opportunity to work with Habitat and both experiences were incredibly different. But what’s cool about Habitat is that you’re working on a house side by side with the family that’s going to own it when it’s completed. That alone is enough to inspire me to want to help out people in different ways. There are so many organizations in every community that are in place to assist those less fortunate. The hardest part about helping out is deciding which one you want to donate your time to.

Just today I signed up, for the second year, to volunteer as a staff member for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in October. This experience is always cool because there are so many survivors who are so excited to be there. My mom is currently battling stage 4 breast cancer so this event is very close to my heart and always an uplifting experience. Organizations like this have a lot of paid help so my job isn’t always significant in task, but the most important part of volunteering for an organization like this is being a cheerleader. You have no idea how much the participants, the survivors, and the fighters appreciate it. That’s enough to make it worth my time.

I challenge you to find a cause that’s important to you and support the shit out of it. There are various causes that are close to my heart for various reasons and I can’t afford to donate money to all of them, but sometimes my time is more valuable. Decide what you can afford to do and take action. Your community needs you!

"Be the change you wish to see in the world" - Ghandi

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Drumroll Please....

Remember when I said I had exciting news that I couldn’t share right away? Well, guess what! I’m still not pregnant. Whew. Thank goodness for that. But, in order for you to find my news as exciting as I do you’ll need to know what I went through to get there.

When I went back to school I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with the Finance degree I was pursuing. The more I learned and talked to people who were in the business, I learned that I was really interested in Investment Banking (from here on out referred to as IB). I was told numerous times by everyone I talked to that IB was super competitive and a degree from my “non-ivy league” university was not going to cut it. Since my university was pretty much my only option at the time I decided to strive for a 4.0 to give me a leg up. Mission accomplished (the 4.0, not the leg up).

I applied to a hundred jobs and made connections at every big bank I could find. Everyone told me the same thing… my university wasn’t prestigious enough to land me a job in IB. Well crap.

When I graduated I asked my favorite professor (who happened to be a prominent market consultant in the community) if he had any ideas how to get into IB. He gave me a few names and wished me well.

Fast forward two months and 100 more job applications, I FINALLY got a call back from one of my professor’s contacts. She happened to be a recruiting VP for a well-known leadership program at a big bank. Open door, insert foot. Yes! I interviewed with her and found out soon after that they wanted me back for a second interview. Turns out this was a big deal, out of 2500+ applicants/interviews, only about 300 get called back for a second interview. Go me!

Side note for informational purposes: The program I was trying to get into is a leadership program where you spend the first 10 months of employment in training. They teach you all about the bank and give you detailed knowledge and training for the area of the bank that you will be working in. Also, since it’s a leadership program, they monitor your career and make sure you are progressing nicely. After the program you are a regular employee just like everyone else, just one that gets special treatment because you’re special. It comes with a lot of perks. This training program is kind of like school with “majors” depending on the career field you want to pursue. Each January and July the program accepts about 50 people. Capital Markets (i.e. Investment Banking) only has 3 slots. Yikes.
Back to my story…

At the end of the second interview they ask you to name your top 3 choices for “major”. When they called to offer me a position in the program they gave me my third choice. Now, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth (an expression that I’ve never understood, but I’m pretty sure it applies here), but I was a little disappointed. Capital Markets is so competitive that I felt like this was my last hope for getting into IB. When they offered me the position they mentioned how well I interviewed and how impressed they were. I saw this as an opportunity to ask questions… why not Capital Markets? You’ll never guess what he said. No really, guess.

Of course he said what everyone else said. Most of the candidates for that major come from a more prestigious university and have had an internship on the street (wall street, that is). Damnitt man! After talking for a while he decided he liked my gumption and offered to talk to some people to see what he could land me another interview with the Capital Markets guys. He ended up talking to three or four different people about me. I interviewed with three of them. Talk about exhausting.

After all was said and done, I did it. I finally convinced them that despite the institution that awarded my degree, despite my lack of internship, and despite my lack of experience in anything IB related, that I can do this job.

I GOT IT! Beginning in January of 2013, I will officially be working in Capital Markets, one of the most competitive industries on the job market.

I’m pretty sure my cute smile and stellar personality only had a little bit to do with it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Life as I Know It

Hey. Remember me? I used to write this very honest blog that half of you found funny and the other half found offensive. Life got a little crazy for a while and then I took a really awesome vacation. But, I’m back. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things so I’m going to go ahead and get my brain dump out of the way. It’s my favorite kind of post to write.

Things have been going really well in my life lately. Like…really well to point that I am almost terrified on a daily basis for the bad news that’s going to bring it all crashing to the ground. I’m actually not sure if things are better than usual or if bad things are happening to so many people around me that my problems seem insignificant in comparison. Maybe I’m just more in tune with my surroundings because my job is so boring… Either way, I really hope things keep going this way because it’s very refreshing.

I feel like I’ve grown up a little this year. I’m actually starting to feel like an adult. Not because I’m more mature (lets be real here, you’ve read my blog), but I think it’s because I’m not in school anymore. I became a student about two months after I became a wife so it was a very confusing time for me. Now that I’m a college graduate, with a job, and a husband, and (*gasp*) I am in my late 20’s, and I actually clean my house and cook dinner on a regular basis things seem different. I’ve grown up before my own eyes. It’s weird.

Remember when I said I was going to give up junk food for 40 days? Because if the Catholics can do it then so can I? I would be a terrible Catholic. I only lasted 4 days. And then I spiraled out of control. I’ve been eating whatever I want, whenever I want, for like a month. It’s not working out well for me. I am slowly crawling back onto my healthy wagon. It’s just not nearly as fun as the gluttony wagon.

I used to have a super private cubicle in a corner where no one could walk by and I always had warning if someone was coming in. Well…my group was relocated a couple weeks ago as a result of a company merger. FML. My new cube is on a main highway and the end of a row so EVERY ONE has to walk by my desk 35 times a day. And, bonus, there is a busy printer right outside my door. Someone please tell me how I am supposed to play on my phone and read blogs on my computer all day with all these people watching. GAH!!

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships; Old ones, new ones, estranged ones (unfortunately), and ones that just don’t get enough attention. Isn’t it sad the way people lose touch? Some of my best friends from high school live so close, yet I haven’t seen them in years. I miss them. My very best guy friend lives 30 minutes away, yet I haven’t seen him in over 2 years and only talk to him through our ‘words with friends’ games. I know he has probably replaced me in his life, understandably, but it makes me so sad because we had the best times together. Some of my best memories are with someone that I’m not even friends with anymore and I can’t even fully explain why. I just know it’s irreparable. Oh life, why must you be so depressing at times? Thank goodness the friendships that are fully intact and well nurtured are so awesome.

If you know anything about me then you know that I LOVE Taylor Swift. I am super obsessed. I’ve actually gotten mad at people for saying bad things about her. So what I’m about to say might shock you…. I think her new song kind of sucks. I mean that in the nicest way possible. Not only is it not country (may I remind you she is a country artist), but it is also one of the most juvenile songs that she’s written. This is odd to me seeing as how she’s getting older and it’s been a couple of years since her last CD was released. I genuinely hope that this song is not a reflection of her new CD. This is not a bandwagon that I will willingly be jumping off of.

The DNC is coming to this great city of mine. I have come to the realization that it’s going to be a gigantic pain in my ass no matter how you look at it. I have options. I can stay in my uptown condo and walk to my uptown job, I can stay outside of the city and drive to my uptown job, or I can stay outside of the city and drive to a remote location to work. Obviously, staying home and walking to work would be ideal. However, the security in this city is going to be so absurd I would probably get sniped for walking down a sidewalk that was restricted to pedestrians. Not to mention the crowds. Add to that the fact that they are actually ticketing people for jaywalking (do you have any idea how long it takes to get somewhere if you actually wait for the lights to change??) and it will end up being one giant headache. They are even increasing security in my building so I would be ID’d every time I walked in the door. Plus, we are thinking about renting out or condo so staying there may not even be an option soon. The option to stay outside the city and drive to work in uptown is almost too complicated to talk about. They are closing so many streets that getting here would be a challenge in itself. Not to mention the parking rates are going to sky rocket so it ends up being a fairly expensive option. My third option is to stay outside of the city and drive to a remote location (one of the company owned plants) to sit in a conference room with the rest of my group for an entire week. One week…looking at my coworkers...listening to them banter. Go ahead and shoot me now because I would never get out alive. More first world problems.

I’m sorry this post wasn’t full of the sarcasm you’re probably accustomed to. Sometimes I have serious thoughts, too. It’s rare, but it happens.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Separation of Fan and Friend

I have a bone to pick with fellow Facebook users.

There are two types of Facebook pages you can create. You can create a personal page that you use to tell your “friends” the mundane details of your life, or you can create a business page that you use to promote whatever service or product you’re trying to sell to your “fans”.

A handful of my friends also have small business fan pages. In most cases, when the friend created the personal business page they asked all of their Facebook friends to become a fan by “liking” their page. In most cases I did because I’m a supportive friend. Now I find myself wondering why I wasted that very valuable thirty seconds of my life.

It annoys me to no end when you post some sort of advertisement on your small business page, and then turn around and immediately post the exact same thing on your personal page. If I can get the same annoying product/service pushing from your personal page, then what was the point of asking me to like your business page? You might argue that you want the friends that don’t “like” your business page to see what your advertisements. But you know what, if they never became a fan of your business page in the first place then I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say that they don’t care. This is a sure fire way to lose friends and fans.

There is another side to this, too. There are also small business pages that fail to realize that it’s a BUSINESS. I am a “fan” (using the term loosely because I’m not really a fan) of one particular page that is very popular. The girl has over 10,000 fans, which is actually pretty impressive for a small business. On this particular page, on almost a weekly basis, the girl uses her status update to air some dirty laundry drama. Sometimes its business related drama (which is still incredibly unprofessional to share), but sometimes it’s just her daily redneck drama. Every time it happens I have to stop myself from telling her what an immature, unprofessional, moron she is. I honestly can’t believe she has managed to hold onto so many fans. She’s one redneck rant away from losing me.

So to recap, if you have two separate Facebook pages, please use them as such and stop flooding my feed with repeat nonsense. If you only have one page, please try to remember which type it is and use it appropriately. Nobody likes an unprofessional business owner.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Puppy Love

Did you know that I love animals? I know a lot of people love animals and do their part to help them, but I seriously love animals so much that I can't even volunteer at an animal shelter because it literally breaks my heart into a million pieces to see their sad faces knowing that they might not make it to the next week alive. So much sadness.

Fun fact: My dream job is to be the CFO of an animal rescue organization such as the ASPCA. So help me, I would find the money to save every single creature I encounter!

I've been known to cry pretty much every time someone loses a pet, whether or not I know them or the pet, I just cry because it's sad to know the heartache they must be feeling.
Short story: One time my sister was telling me about how her husband killed some ants. They were on a log so he set it in a fire and got it really hot so they had to jump off. But when they did they landed in the fire and died. I cried. I didn't cry because he killed the ants, ants are little devils and I kill them when necessary. It was just really cruel to torture them when they couldn't defend themselves.
I actually don't even consider ants an animal. They aren't, they're insects. But the thing that makes me feel so much compassion for animals is their inability to defend or speak for themselves in most situations. So that's why the ant story made me sad.

I have two cats myself. Batman and Captain Morgan. They are pretty much the quirkiest cats I've ever encountered and I never get bored with them. It will be a rough time for me when my fur babies pass away.

Last week, in Ireland, the city council put a dog to sleep because it was a "pit-bull terrier type". The dog had never been in any kind of trouble or anything, someone just saw it, thought it looked like a pit bull (which is illegal in Ireland) so they took it away from the owners. I've heard that DNA tests showed ZERO signs of pit bull heritage. None. Turns out it was an American bulldog-Labrador mix. So anyways, the owners started a campaign, gained worldwide attention and support to save the dog, and the city council says its too dangerous. A human rights activist flew to Ireland and offered to bring the dog back to the United States at NO COST to the city council. They declined and killed the dog anyways.

Reading about this puppy outraged me in ways I cannot even explain. For starters, the dog was held by the city council for TWO YEARS before they finally put it to sleep. Can you imagine how it felt, all alone with no more love and attention from it's owners? It breaks my heart just to think about it. Secondly, the city council had the opportunity to get the dog out of the country, at no cost or inconvenience to them, and avoid the devastation all together. But for some reason those animal hating bastards still felt like it was a better choice to kill the dog. This, in my book, is the same thing as animal cruelty. Isn't that illegal?

I will never understand how a person cannot love animals. How often do you meet a person who loves you unconditionally, without judgement, 100% of the time?

Friday, July 13, 2012

First World Problems (1st edition)

Being an adult is hard. I’m not talking about the obvious challenges of earning money, managing it, paying bills, etc. I’m just talking about being an adult with various relationships to juggle.

There are spouses, lovers (but hopefully not both, you little minx), family, children, friends, pets, daily responsibilities, and so on. Balancing all of these things is one of the most exhausting parts of my life. It would be nice if there was a manual for this sort of thing.

I always want to spend time with my husband. He’s my favorite person to be around and we have a lot of fun. But on top of that, quality time is very important for keeping our marriage strong and happy so there is also the necessary aspect of spending time together.

Then there is my family. I work with my sister so seeing/spending time with her is never really an issue. We talk basically all day every day. But the rest of my family, with the exception of my mom and step dad, lives 3-4 hours away. If they are in town I want to spend as much time as possible with them. Not to mention I would love, more than anything, to be able to make frequent trips to see them, but with all the other relationships I juggle, finding time is a challenge. In addition to my own family, I also have my husband’s family to think about. They are a very close knit family and I love hanging out with them so lots of time gets dedicated to them as well.

I have the greatest best friend. We always have so much fun together when we’re hanging out, regardless of what we’re doing. It makes me sad when we go long stretches of time without seeing each other. But in addition to enjoying her company, sometimes she needs my company. She’s had a rough year and sometimes dinner with her BFF to vent or just sit in a mutually understood silence is what she needs to make her feel better. Being there for a friend is always a top priority for me.

Of course, I have other friends, too. Shocker, I know. So there is the occasional dinner, fitness class, or whatever with them, too.

I don’t mean for this to sound like an “oh, I’m so popular I don’t have time for all my friends” groan. Sadly, that is not the case. I can probably count my good friends on one hand. The problem is that on top of balancing these very important relationships, I also have to balance the necessary parts of my life. You know 40hr/wk. job, housework, grocery shopping, volunteering, exercising, etc.

I seem to give myself so much to all these relationships that not only do I always feel like I’m neglecting someone or something, I AM always neglecting myself. When is there time to be selfish?

I don’t mean for this to sound like I am whining about “having” to spend time with various people. These are all relationships that I want to have, to nurture, and to grow! I love the people in my life and I love hanging out with them. All I’m saying is that being a good wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend is hard. Lord help me when it’s time to add mother to that list.

But… I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.